An unexpected reunion

Patrick Diaz with volunteer group in New Orleans
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On January 3, 2013, I volunteered at my 58th Habitat site around the U.S., the Brookfield Court development in Oakland by Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley. It was here that I had an unexpected reunion with a volunteer with whom I worked at my very first Habitat site three years ago, in New Orleans, Louisiana

I had no homebuilding experience whatsoever. It was cold, wet, and windy. I wore construction boots that were too large, the shoelaces kept unknotting, and I was up on a ladder for the entire time. This was my first time ever in New Orleans, my first time traveling on my own. I was worried about getting injured and fouling up. Nevertheless, despite the unfavorable and haphazard circumstances, our crew developed a sturdy, assured rhythm to effectively master our task at hand - installing housewrap.

While working on the same site in New Orleans I met a fellow volunteer named Steve. It is a detail that would have remained adrift in a sea of memory, among countless other inconsequential details I've accumulated in my travels, if not for a happenstance reunion at Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley build site in Oakland.

What I remember of Steve in New Orleans was his black winter beanie, the manner in which his glasses were situated almost to the tip of his nose, and the friendly, soft spoken, high register sound of his voice. I recall that he said he was from Oakland, and that his profession was in education. I remember him being happy, supportive, and encouraging of learning new tasks.

Fifty-seven sites later, I run into Steve again, and miraculously, he remembered who I was. We shared stories about our time in New Orleans, to the amusement and surprise of the staff and volunteers, and I showed him photos of New Orleans and other cities where I volunteered. I had only ONE photo of him, helping build the front steps, but his back was to the camera. I found out his last name: Ghidinelli. And I had the honor to take his picture holding the Hello Habitat GLA sign I carry with me whenever I travel.

Thank you, Steve Ghidinelli, for taking the time to catch up and share your Habitat Story. What a great way to mark three years of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity across the country.


Steve holding Patrick's well traveled sign.